Lima Sopoaga switches from All Blacks to Samoa for Rugby World Cup 2023 Getty

Former All Black star Lima Sopoaga will play for Samoa at the World Cup. Photo: All Blacks website.

Samoa stack World Cup squad with former All Blacks and Wallabies

Samoa have picked an initial Rugby World Cup squad brimming with talent and Test experience.

Lima Sopoaga switches from All Blacks to Samoa for Rugby World Cup 2023 Getty

Former All Black star Lima Sopoaga will play for Samoa at the World Cup. Photo: All Blacks website.

Samoa has selected three for former All Blacks and an ex-Wallaby in their initial squad for the Rugby World Cup in France in later this year.

Samoa name star-studded squad for RWC

Three All Blacks and an Australia rugby star have switched international allegiance for the Rugby World Cup and joined Samoa.

Charlie Faumuina, Steven Luatua, Lima Sopoaga and former Wallaby fly-half Christian Leali’ifano were named in the Samoan training squad for the tournament on Sunday.

Faumuina accumulated 50 caps for the All Blacks between 2012 and 2017 and was part of the 2015 World Cup-winning squad. Sopoaga has 16 Test appearances for New Zealand, Luatua has represented the Kiwis15 times internationally.

The 35-year-old Leali’ifano has turned out for the 26 times and last played for Australia at the 2019 World Cup.

Former USA prop Titi Lamositele is another player switching allegiances to Samoa and could feature in his third tournament.

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The strong squad also includes Leinster prop Michael Ala’alatoa, Clermont veteran Fritz Lee, Saracens star Theo McFarland and Lyon’s Jordan Taufua.

Samoa are in Pool D at the World Cup, alongside England, Argentina, Japan and Chile, and will be hoping to cause an upset and challenge for a quarter-final spot. They will play Ireland, Fiji, Japan and Tonga in warm-up matches. Samoa beat Georgia, Fiji, Tonga and Australia A last year.

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The changes see Samoa follow the likes of Tonga in recruiting some serious talent thanks to a change in the rules that allows players to switch international allegiance after a stand down period of three years as long as they qualify.

Tonga will include the likes of Israel Folau, Charles Piutau, George Moala and Malakai Fekitoa in their squad.

ALSO READ: Two former All Blacks named in Samoa tour squad

THE INITIAL PLAYING SQUAD

Forwards — Michael Ala’alatoa, Brian Alainu’uese, Paul Alo-Emile, Michael Curry, So’otala Fa’aso’o*, Miracle Fai’ilagi*, Charlie Faumuina*, Jack Lam, Seilala Lam, Titi Lamositele*, Jordan Lay, Fritz Lee, Genesis Mamea-Lemalu, Steven Luatua*, Sama Malolo*, Theo McFarland, Alamanda Motuga, Ray Niuia, Taleni Seu, Samuel Slade, Jordan Taufua, Luteru Tolai, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Tietie Tuimauga, Chris Vui.

Backs  Nigel Ah Wong, Ereatara Enari, Neria Fomai, Stacey Ili, Christian Leali’ifano*, D’angelo Leuila, Tumua Manu, Melani Matavao, Tim Nanai-Williams, Duncan Paia’aua, UJ Seuteni, Lima Sopoaga*, Martini Talapusi*, Jonathan Taumateine, Danny Toala.

*Denotes uncapped players.

steven luatua Samoa
Samoa took advantage of World Rugby’s new eligibility rules by including three former All Blacks in their RWC squad. Image: Getty Images

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